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No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VA… Read more THE DR. BILL COTTON STUDY COLLECTION OF REGIONAL FURNITURE We waited for it for years. We kept hearing that it was 'nearly finished', then 'just a couple more things to include' or 'probably by the end of this year' and even after it was 'with the publisher now' delays ensued as the author discovered 'something very interesting that really needs to be recorded'. Finally in 1991, Bill Cotton's benchmark publication The English Regional Chair was published and raised the profile, status and interest in the study of British Vernacular Furniture overnight. Bill handled literally thousands of country chairs in his years as a specialist dealer in vernacular furniture. As these pieces passed through his hands, his enthusiasm for their various forms, styles and construction, combined with his enquiring academic mind, fired him to record and collate, in meticulous detail, their characteristics, materials, origins and where possible their makers. With persistent thoroughness he has scoured through public records offices and regional libraries inventories, for bills of sale, trade cards, provincial genre paintings and prints, for clues and evidence, which have gradually grown to form the foundations of a body of knowledge on which we can now all build and develop. Bill closed his antiques business 14 or so years ago to concentrate on writing, lecturing and research. He has held Professorships at Buckingham University College, High Wycombe and Southampton Institute of Higher Education, has lectured and led study days for the RICS and NADFAS and accepted invitations to share his knowledge in America, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. He was a founding member of and driving force behind the Regional Furniture Society whose research and published findings have become increasingly respected and influential. He has also helped to establish valuable contacts and relationships for the Society with many eminent public and private collections both here and abroad, thereby sharing knowledge, comparing sources and developing scholarship. Now Bill plans to scale down his commitment to devote more time to writing and perhaps even to spending a few more hours fly fishing and enjoying his stretch of the 'River Coln'. The Bill Cotton Study Collection, formed, grown and pruned as a teaching aid, is the unique achievement of a pioneer in his chosen field. The major part of the collection, some 400 chairs, has been generously gifted to the Geffrye Museum in London. It is a testament to Bill that his collection of originally humble furniture will now form part of a venerable national collection, where future generations will benefit from his dedication and vision. The sixty lots offered here, predominantly Celtic case furniture and chairs, did not form part of that gift and are now being sold for others to enjoy and cherish. Several years ago, I happened to speak to Bill on the phone on the day he had bought a Cornish Dresser at a West Country auction (Lot no 5). He was breathless with excitement as he told me about the maker's label it bore, pinpointing the date and exact location of manufacture. Each piece offered here has its own similar story to tell. Many have detailed provenance, inscriptions, labels, stamps or signatures that endorse an assocation with a regional tradition. They are pieces with integrity, somehow guileless and charming, that represent a vital link with often neglected areas of our social and cultural history. They are milestones from the journey of learning and discovery undertaken by a dedicated academic with a passion for his subject. Bill Cotton's contribution to vernacular and regional furniture studies and infectious enthusiasm has inspired a generation of students and furniture historians and this collection now offers a unique opportunity to collectors and institutions alike to acquire documentary examples of original and authentic vernacular furniture, which have been discovered, examined and researached by one of the most prominent and influential connoisseurs in his field. Robert Young September 2003 WEST COUNTRY FURNITURE


Late 19th century
With a hinged lid, side carrying handles and plinth
35½in. (90cm.) wide, 15½in. (39cm.) high, 20in. (51cm.) deep
See Illustration
Special Notice

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Lot Essay

The rear of the box has the name and origin of its maker written into the wet paint 'Baker Maker Oakfordbridge 1875.'; on the lid, again written into the wet paint, are the words 'E.Bead Oakford'.

The census return for Oakford in 1861 records a James Baker listed as an unmarried lodger age 72 (he would have been 85 years old when he made this box in 1875). In the same census an Emma Bead is recorded as servant and dairy made, age 15 and born in Tiverton.

These details written on the box make it one of the most highly provenanced items of West Country furniture yet recorded.


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